Author Archives: Jennifer Min

Loro Jonggrang

“This folklore is about a famous temple called Prambanan in Jogjakarta, a big traditional city in Indonesia. By the way, Prambanan is a famous Hindu temple in Jogjakarta. The story is called Loro Jonggrang and it’s about how the temple was formed. It was said that there was a princess named Loro Jonggrang who was very beautiful and was the daughter of a cruel king in a great kingdom. In a neighboring kingdom, there was a prince named Bandung Bondowoso. The two kingdoms fought, and this prince killed the cruel king, the father of Loro Jonggrang. As he saw the princess, he was stunned by her beauty and proposed to her, the enemy of his kingdom. When she found out that he’s actually the murderer of her dad she rejected him. Because he was so persistent, and would not give up, she gave him a condition, which was to build her a thousand temples in one night. Of course, she thought that he would not be able to actually build these temples; it is normally an impossible task. But Bandung was a powerful guy, who could use his power to command dark forces and genies. So he did. When Loro Jonggrang saw that he had nearly finished building all those temples, she cheated out of fear. She asked all the people in the villages to grind the rice padi. The cocks thought that morning had come because of the all the noise. So they also made their crowing sound. The dark forces and genies became scared when they heard the cocks because of the noise and they thought it was morning.. So they abandoned the temples. The prince learned about this cheating, and he became very angry. He used his powers to curse Loro Jonggrang, turning her into a statue. Her statue is now an important feature of Prambanan, since it completed the temple.”

My informant first heard about this legend from a friend when she went to visit this temple. She thought it was very interesting, and a way to add to the temple and its history. It helped to connect the temple to the land and its folklore, and probably came from a true story in which a supernatural variation came about because of the beauty of the temple and is religious context.

This story was entertaining to hear, as I had never really heard folklore from Indonesia before. I thought it was interesting that they used supernatural explanations with dark magic and romance to explain a religious temple. I found it funny that the dark magical creatures became scared once they heard the crowing of the roosters, although perhaps it was because they may be vulnerable to the day.

 

Santoso, Suwito, Fendi Siregar, and Kestity Pringgoharjono. The Centhini Story: The Javanese Journey of Life : Based on the Original Serat Centhini. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2006. Print.

The Dog and the Shadow

“A dog had a piece of meat that he was carrying to his home in his mouth to eat it. There was a river that he saw on his way home with a plank laying across it. He had to cross this plan in order to reach the other side. As the dog was crossing, he saw his own shadow reflected in the water beneath him. The dog thought his own shadow was another dog holding another piece of meat. He wanted this piece of meat too, and decided to have it to eat along with his. So he snapped at the shadow in the water, which caused him to open his mouth and drop the piece of meat in it into the water. It fell inside and traveled away and was never seen again.”

My informant told me that a neighbor had passed on this story to him. His neighbor had a book containing Aeseop’s fables, and read this one in particular to him. Although this particular fable could be interpreted in many different ways, for him it always reminded him to be humble and to count his blessings. It meant to enjoy what he already has rather than trying to reach unattainable things. Of course striving for success is still good, but to be grounded in what he has, such as his family and friends and religion. The fables were straightforward but gave him a lot to consider, and were a great morale compass in his childhood.

I had never heard of these fables before, and found it to be very interesting and informative. It also reminds me to be content with what I have and not foolishly grasp for what is not real. In this world where success and promotions are so highly sought after, reminders like these are necessary, to be content with what you have. Or else, even if you achieve that next level, you will still not experience satisfaction.

 

James, Thomas. Aesop’s Fables: A New Version, Chiefly from Original Sources. London: J. Murray, 1848. Print.

The Ghost Festival

“If you come to Singapore during the ghost festival, you’ll smell a lot of things burning. Basically it’s this celebration in late august where superstitious traditional families in Singapore pay respects to the dead. They believe that during this time, the dead roam around the earth. People will present offerings and burn a bunch of fake money to send to the world of the dead. They believe that the more money they burn, the more their family is protected from harm. I think they’re in a way paying the souls of the dead so they won’t come bother them. This festival goes on for awhile, and there are different religious ceremonies throughout it. Oh, also people burn incense on their doors. The most thing I remember from this time is the smell of everything burning.”

I find it a bit amusing and interesting that people are so superstitious all over the world. Many big festivals contain these types of rituals. Especially in Asia, honoring the dead and ancestors is often a very important thing.